Intravenous Caffeine

Totally Unfair and Completely Unbalanced

The Torch Has Passed, President Obama, Don’t Let It Drop

Kennedy passes the healthcare torch to Obama, who drops it in favor of compromiseIf you weren’t in a coma, or just weren’t paying attention because the Daily Show and Colbert Report were showing re-runs, you will have noticed that Ted Kennedy passed away from the brain cancer that has afflicted him the past year. Our condolences go out to his family and, indeed, to his larger family, the people of the United States of America. Kennedy wasn’t in politics for what he could skim off the top for himself. He wasn’t in it just for the people of Massachusetts, although no one worked harder for his constituency. Ted Kennedy was in politics to do whatever good he could for everyone in this country. Kennedy had a very “Catholic” attitude towards wealth–one that was shared by his two brothers, Jack and Bobby. God does not give you wealth as a sign of his favor, as the Calvinist would believe–rather, God lets the roll of the dice decide who’s wealthy and who’s not. His interest is, what GOOD will you do with your money? This is a lesson that frankly has escaped a lot of very wealthy people in this land–the idea that the wealthy have the obligation to use their riches to help others. They don’t have to impoverish themselves, but they have to leave this world a better place for their having been given the resources to do it with. We were lucky to have one such as Ted Kennedy to work for that end so hard for so long.
But enough theological speculation. Now we turn to the “What would Teddy do” game. Let’s name the health care bill after Teddy! HUZZAH! Now let’s try and pass it…huzzah… Senators on both sides of the aisle are starting to claim that Teddy would do–whoa, I stand in amazement–exactly what THEY would do. John Kerry has touted Kennedy’s willingness to compromise–a strategy that smacks more of Kerry than of Kennedy. Yes, Teddy would compromise–he’d also wheel and deal and he’d know when to hang tough and when to relent. Kennedy was not about compromise–he was about getting the job done.
But does the current state of the health care legislation really get the job done? When you look at it head-on, Obama’s negotiations with insurance companies and Big Pharma has resulted in a lot of empty promises. We’ll lower our profits by $80bn! Lower them from WHAT? What kind of profits did they expect to be making that they could toss that much away and STILL make ungodly profits? Then there’s the waffling on the “public option” which seems to be supported by the White House or considered “not to be a deal breaker” with each change of the wind. Without that public option, there’s no way to keep the insurance companies to their word and continue to ply business as usual. Then there’s Obama’s insistence on a bipartisan solution when the Republican party has declared that they will break him by not passing any reform. You can’t satisfy anyone who’s got their fingers in their ears…and their thumbs someplace else. Especially when they’re being egged on by Fox News and the goon squads who’ve been showing up at the town hall meetings to prevent any serious discussion, a la the brown shirts. Not to mention the revolt of the blue dog Democrats, whose campaign coffers have been heavily contributed to by the insurance companies for the purpose of stymying any real reform.
Heck, even the NYTimes is pushing for a majority vote so health care reform can be passed despite the bad faith and obstructionism of the Republican party. But, someone’s going to have to pull the blue dogs into line. That’s where we’re really going to miss Teddy–for his ability to pull the party together, wheel, deal, and maybe even threaten the recalcitrant to get into line. Obama wasn’t in the Senate long enough to know where the skeletons are buried and Harry Reid doesn’t have the clout. But unless the bluedogs are brought into line, we’ll either have a gutless wonder or nothing at all, which the thugs will claim as a win. The Ted Kennedy Health Care Bill? Let’s make sure it’s a reform that’s worthy to carry his name. And pass it. And that would be a fitting memorial to Teddy.

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Notice how the artist picked just the perfect shades of gray to evoke an overwhelming sense of grayness…

George Dymme discovers that two missing Marden paintings are actually in use as dividers for his office cubicle.

Mr. Dymme was unaware his cubicle was so artistically favored.

I suppose at least some of you have heard about the $3 million painting that was destroyed by Lufthansa who is now being sued by the gallery which was handling it. But have you noticed, nobody’s printed a photo of said $3 million work of art? We get a description, two panels in two shades of gray. Let me translate that for you. One panel is ALL one shade of gray. The other panel is all THE OTHER shade of gray. Yup, that’s it. Two panels, two colors, no waiting. It’s called, in a title that’s neither French nor English, “Au Center”. I understand that the artist eschewed the usual Winsor and Newton oils and sable brush for two cans of Sherwin-Williams and a roller. “Marden’s ‘Au Center’ came loose in its travel frame while being transported last year, resulting in ‘a significant amount of paint loss’ and the destruction of the painting, said Eliot Greenberg, a lawyer for Gagosian Gallery in New York.” He should have used two coats.
Lest anyone think I’m kidding, here are a couple of other Marden paintings from the same period:
Grove Group I
Annunciation Study I
For Pearl
These are all from his early period, when his paintings consisted of, well, big rectangles of color. In his later work, he advanced to squiggles. A New Yorker critic, who seems to have been afflicted by attending too many New York gallery openings, called Marden “the most profound abstract painter of the last four decades.” You’ve GOT to read this article, just to get a load of the incredible critical hyperbole which says more about the critic’s imagination than what’s on the canvas. What is profound about these paintings is not their significance, is not their technique, is not their insight, but the depth of the con that has been perpetrated. Are these paintings or are they just paint on canvas? Is this art or interior decorating? Works like these are the Bernie Maddof hedge funds of the art world. Just as the only value to Bernie’s investments was his name, the only thing that distinguishes these colored panels from the living room walls is the artist’s name in the corner. $3 million dollars for two canvases of flat gray! Lord God a’mighty, I’m in the wrong business! I’m gonna hie me down to the local art store for some canvas and then to Home Depot for some gloss enamel! But I’m not gonna sign it with MY name–that wouldn’t be worth a nickel. I’m gonna sign Brice Marden and make a bundle!

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Which way is the wind blowing today, Mr. President?

The townhall meetings are likened to the climax of Frankenstein where the mob of villagers burn the monster alive in the windmill, whose vanes form a burning cross.

A recent town hall meeting

Well, the anti-Obama mobs have continued disrupting the town meetings that the Republicans demanded so they could break them up with anti-Obama mobs. These guys are getting scary. One yahoo brought a loaded gun to a townhall meeting where the President of the United States was speaking, just in case he had the chance to shoot someone (see Armed and Dangerous?). He was carrying a sign reading, “It’s time to water the Tree of Liberty”–making a reference to a Jefferson quotation that continues, “with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” The police did not arrest him. He was on private property and the weapon wasn’t concealed so–he was breaking no laws. I guess there’s no law against an implied threat to the President in New Hampshire. I mean, come on, would you ever carry a loaded gun anywhere unless you think you might have to use it, right? Oh, heck, I might need to shoot a lock open next to the President of the United States, whom I think is really a Kenyan usurper, and a secret Moslem who wants to turn us into Socialists! Yes, I agree, that the idiot has the right to say whatever comes into his pointy little head, but the combination of advocating spilling the blood of tyrants while standing in a group of angry protestors WHILE carrying a loaded gun shows the sorry state of political discourse going on today. Some people (not mentioning any names, Republican party) seem to think that it’s OK to drown out someone trying to speak by shouting–probably because they see Bill O’Reilly do it on a nightly basis. Didn’t their mothers ever teach them how to be polite?
But their message is getting through to the Great Compromiser, who sent up a trial balloon to see if he could get away without a public option in the ever-dwindling Health Care Reform. This time, it was Kathy Sebelius who was chosen to take the bullet. The reaction from the left very pointedly showed that without the public option, the Democratic party can expect its progressive wing to sit on its hands come November 2010–and possibly 2012 as well. After all, without the public option, we might as well pass a bill apologizing to the Health Insurance conglomerates for needlessly worrying them about real reform. It’s truly amazing how many times someone in this Administration–which spends so much care crafting its messages–how many times someone “misspeaks”. BTW that has got to be the god-damnedest word in the English language, covering everything from Freudian slips to trial balloons to outright lies, trying to make it sound like missing the step on a short flight of stairs. I think it’s high time we replaced that term.
Anyway, Kathy Sebelius has officially misspoke and President Obama has re-iterated his support of the public option. But don’t try to get end-of-life counseling–that’s already in the crapper.

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ARE Self-congratulations in order?

Three homeless people discuss the jobless recovery

Hey, Goldman Sachs is doing fine...

The other week, President Obama decided he deserved a pat on the back so he gave himself one. The unemployment figures for July showed an amazing drop of ONE-TENTH of ONE PERCENT!. Ahhh, the stumble-us–errrr–stimulus has worked and we have avoided a major financial catastrophe. Kudos to my administration!
Well, Mr. President, I think you might be being a bit premature here. Granted we NEED some good news, what with the economy bouncing along the bottom like it has, but a tenth of a percent is really nothing to write home about. Hey Mom, I got a 65.1 instead of a 65 on that test–I didn’t flunk AS BADLY. I’m sure my mom would’ve just hugged the daylights out of me–or got the daylights out of me some other way. Robert Kuttner points out that the job market still hemmorhaged nearly a quarter of a million more jobs and that the drop in the unemployment rate was due to the fact that more people have stopped looking for work. You see, after you’ve given up looking for work after months and months of fruitless job interviews, the people who figure the unemployment rate decide that either you’ve retired or you’re a skid row bum living on mashed potatoes and Heaven Hill. One of the so-called “hardcore unemployed”. In other words, not worth counting anymore. But, if you manage to find a part-time job cleaning the parking lot at the local MickeyD’s–hey, you’re employed again! According to Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute if you add in all the “marginally attached” and “involuntarily part-time” workers, a staggering 25.6 million people–or over 16 percent of the population (nearly 1 in 6) is either unemployed or underemployed.
The good news is that at least one policy is showing success–the Cash for Clunkers–so much so that it had to be given more money. That at least helps people who HAVE jobs. And gets some of the gas hogs off the road. But mostly, the stimulus has only helped people with large offices…with windows…in banks. And one thing you know about bankers–they don’t give away money without giving themselves a bonus first! Yacht sales were booming last February. You can see some of the best of them here: 10 CEO Mega-Yachts (PHOTOS, POLL). Trickle down in action! Ronald Reagan would be proud.

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Gordon Gekko announces Goldman Sach’s latest profit statement

Gordon Gekko announces Goldman Sach's profits and tries to pick up an underage girl

Goldman Sachs is an equal opportunity employer for reptiles...

Financial Times: Wall Street profits from trades with Fed “You can make big money trading with the government,” said an executive at one leading investment management firm. “The government is a huge buyer and seller and Wall Street has all the pricing power.” A former official of the US Treasury and the Fed said the situation had reached the point that “everyone games them. Their transparency hurts them. Everyone picks their pocket.”
TIME: Too Much Profit at Goldman and Morgan? Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi … calls the firm a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”
Bloomberg: Goldman Sachs Lawyer Charged With Soliciting Girl (Update2)
Goldman Sachs Attorney Caught Trying to Do to a Teen What Goldman Is Doing to All of Us [Crime]
Todd Genger, a 33-year-old attorney for Goldman Sachs, was arrested yesterday for soliciting an undercover cop that he thought was a 15-year-old girl. That’s criminal. Reaping billions in profit from surreptitious taxpayer bailouts, however, remains perfectly legal.
I saw the Gawker article with its reference to Gordon Gekko from WALL STREET and all I could think of was a lizard soliciting a 15 year old :) As the article continues: So much for the vaunted reputation of Goldman’s army of Ivy League geniuses: “If Genger did indeed get into sexy IM chats with someone he believed to be 15 years old, he’s a colossal idiot on top of being pervert. Because when you think you’re chatting with a sexy underage girl on the internet—it is always a cop. Jeez.”
Ya gotta wonder. Then again–what else could be more in keeping with the reptilian company that gamed the US into GIVING it profits?
We’ve reached the slow season folks and this cartoonist needs some time off desperately to take care of other business so for the month of August, we will be publishing Mondays only.

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